Educational Institutions: Ventilation

Department for Education written question – answered on 5th September 2022.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help improve ventilation in education settings in advance of the autumn term.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will provide HEPA air filtration devices to all schools ahead of the autumn term.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Education)

The department has published guidance, Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), which provides guidelines on indoor and outdoor air quality in new and refurbished schools.

BB101 promotes best practice in controlling pollutants and setting maximum standards for levels of pollutants in indoors. More information on BB101 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-bulletin-101-ventilation-for-school-buildings.

As part of the department’s response to COVID-19, state-funded education and childcare providers in England were supplied with carbon dioxide monitors to help manage the need for ventilation and thermal comfort.

Schools have found the monitors helpful to manage ventilation and, in the majority of education providers, existing ventilation measures are sufficient.

Where an area of poor ventilation has been identified that cannot be resolved through simple measures such as opening doors and windows, schools are advised to explore what remedial works may be required to improve ventilation. Where it was not possible to maintain adequate ventilation, providers were advised to consider the use of an air cleaning unit to reduce the risk of aerosol pathogens, including COVID-19 transmission, while the underlying ventilation issue is addressed.

To support education providers, the department provided over 8,000 air cleaning units with HEPA filters as a temporary measure whilst the underlying ventilation issue was addressed. More information can be found at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/delivery-of-air-cleaning-units.

The findings of a survey of education providers using carbon dioxide monitors found that 97% of providers could achieve good ventilation.

Indoor air pollutants can be managed using mechanical or natural ventilation systems. Air cleaning units do not reduce carbon dioxide levels. They are not a substitute for ventilation and should never be used as a reason to reduce ventilation. They are not necessary in spaces that are adequately ventilated.

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